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Free-Riding in Procurement Design

Low-powered contracts do not provide proper incentives to reduce cost; still empirical studies show that they are quite pervasive in public and private procurement. This paper argues that low-powered contracts arise due to a free-riding problem when the contractor enjoys economies of scale/scope working for different buyers. A buyer, offering a procurement contract to the contractor, does not fully internalize that higher-powered incentives provide cost reduction in the contractor's activities, benefiting other buyers. As a result, buyers offer lower-powered contracts than what would be designed by cooperative buyers. Strikingly, the higher the contractor's benefits from economies of scope/scale are, the lower the power of the procurement contracts will be. In addition, laws which force buyers to award fixed-price contracts can be welfare-enhancing.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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File URL: http://www2.toulouse.inra.fr/lerna/travaux/cahiers2009/09.29.305.pdf
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Paper provided by LERNA, University of Toulouse in its series LERNA Working Papers with number 09.29.305.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ler:wpaper:09.29.305
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  1. Levin, Jonathan & Athey, Susan, 2001. "Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions," Scholarly Articles 3612768, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Kim, H Youn, 1987. "Economies of Scale in Multi-product Firms: An Empirical Analysis," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(214), pages 185-206, May.
  3. Asanuma, Banri & Kikutani, Tatsuya, 1992. "Risk absorption in Japanese subcontracting: A microeconometric study of the automobile industry," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 1-29, March.
  4. Martimort, D., 1992. "Exclusive Dealing, Common Agency and Multiprincipals Incentive Thoery," Papers 92.278, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
  5. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1986. "Bidding for Contracts: A Principal-Agent Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 326-338, Autumn.
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